NO KITCHEN REQUIRED

We just had a fabulous weekend in Brooklyn. I consider myself a Manhattan regular, but this weekend in Brooklyn was a first for me. Our main mission was attending a launch dinner Saturday night for a new cooking show on BBC America called No Kitchen Required. The Mexican themed dinner party was hosted by the talented chef/proprietors of NY Bite Club, Alicia and Daniel. This members only dining club served up a 5 star menu for their 30 or so guests, with perfectly paired cocktails by Joaquin from NYC’s Death & Co. The eclectic group of guests – food bloggers, photographers, press and BBC folks, were given a feast of delicacies and a sneak peek at the show. Chef contestant, Chef Kayne Raymond (you may have seen him on Chopped) and the show’s host Dr. Shini Somara, were there to meet everyone and share their inside scoop on the show. Be sure to catch the first episode airing tonight at 10pm on BBC America. It looks very exciting!

I made a terrible decision to not schlep my good camera into the city for the weekend… alas, my photos from the evening are such a bummer. I was lucky enough to meet photographer Alice Gao. Her photographs can be found on Serious Eats as well as her own blog, Lingered Upon. Check out her pics of the food from the Bite Club event – she’s so talented! Brenna Cammeron from the Huffington Post also provides a gallery of photos from Alice and a great run down of the evening.

Given the underground nature of NY Bite Club, we arrived at the secret location, under the cloak of darkness, taking an oath of silence never to reveal the identity of the Bite Club chefs. It’s kind of like being the James Bond of the foodie world. We certainly felt like we were part of something special. Guacomole, Frijoles Refritos and Nachos were on the table to get us started. The main courses included Pozole con Puerco, a hominy soup served with a jalapeño filled spoon for swirling and a Huitacoche Quesidilla, my favorite of the night. The Pipian de Pollo, Chicken with Pumpkin Seed Sauce was fall-off-the-bone tender and the Chivo Enchilado, roasted baby goat… well, that was my only challenge. Even with a tequila chaser I couldn’t bring myself to slug back the goat innards soup. Does that make me less of a foodie? I hope Alicia and Daniel can forgive me. I made up for it by scarfing down their creamy flan in two bites. Served with a delicious Horchata Shot and an Oaxaca Old Fashioned, it was the perfect way to end this culinary adventure.

Alicia from Bite Club was happy to share her recipe for Frijoles Refritos. This addictive bean dip got much of my attention at our table. It has a great spicy kick, right up my alley.

NY BITE CLUB FRIJOLES REFRITOS

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 onion, peeled and halved
  • 3 cups dry black beans, cleaned and rinsed
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 3 – 4 avocado leaves (optional)
  • 9 cups chicken stock
  • 1 large white onion, sliced super thin
  • 3 tablespoons pork lard (or corn oil but pork lard is much better)
  • 2 teaspoons crushed chili pepper flakes

Place the halved onion, rinsed beans, jalapeño, garlic, salt and avocado leaves into a slow cooker. Pour in the stock and stir to combine. Cook on high for 8 hours, adding more stock as needed.

When beans are finished, slice the white onion very thin. Place the skinny onion rings in a skillet with some lard and sauté until they’re really soft and limp. If you don’t have real lard, use some corn oil – but do TRY to find lard.

Add the cooked beans and their liquor to the pan with the onion in stages. Allow them to come to a simmer if they’ve been chilled. Take a potato/bean masher and run it along the pan, mashing beans and onion together to make somewhat of a paste. Keep doing this until all the beans are mostly mashed and the onions have disappeared. When you run the masher and it leaves a trail where you can see the bottom of the pan, you’re done. Add the crushed chili pepper flakes and salt to taste. 

Serve with chips and enjoy!

I walked away from this incredible evening learning two important lessons. First, when in doubt always travel with my good camera. Lesson two, and more importantly, I can still hold my tequila after all these years! Many thanks to BBC America and to Alicia and Daniel at NY Bite Club for a fantastic evening. Best of luck to the No Kitchen Required team. Be sure to catch the first episode tonight on BBC America at 10pm.

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